Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Last Call

My faith in Debbie Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair was on shaky ground to begin with, but at this point the thin ice she's on has broken under her feet.

Democrats are ready to take responsibility for the state of the economy and they deserve credit for putting it on the right track, the party’s chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said on Wednesday.

“We own the economy. We own the beginning of the turnaround and we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery, not go back to the policies of the past under the Bush administration that put us in the ditch in the first place,” Wasserman Schultz told Mike Allen at POLITICO’s ‘Playbook Breakfast.’

The economy, she said, “has turned around” since President Obama took office, with steady job growth evident even if the pace leaves something to be desired.

The economy's turned around?  Bullshit, madam.  Absolute bullshit.   We're in a housing depression, years out from being resolved.  The banks are still running the country into the ground, and the Republicans are doing everything they can to lock the fire doors and let everyone inside burn.  And you want to own this mess because you think we're on the right track?

What about the Republicans holding the country's recovery hostage?  What about that?

But Wasserman Schultz came to the defense of two potential GOP rivals, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, saying it is unfair for the media to portray them as pitted against each other simply because they are both women.

“Even though I don’t agree with either Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann on virtually anything,” she said, to laughter from the audience, “I do think the unique scrutiny … because of their gender” and “highlighting the potential conflict between them” is a product of the media’s desire for juicy storylines. “I think it’s inappropriate.”

Arguing strongly for increasing representation of women in elected office, she said that while progress has been made, “The good ol’ boys’ system is alive and well.”

Awesome. Way to pick a side and back the President, Debbie.

Sure, Politico is picking a fight here and most likely taking her out of context.  But as media-savvy as she supposedly is, she sure is putting a lot of juicy fat fastball right over the plate for the Politico crew to swing at.

So far I am largely unimpressed with her term, to the point where I'm revisiting my assumption that Tim Kaine would have done a worse job.

Summer At Camp Galt

Via Digby, you gotta get em while they're young and impressionable.

Here's another option now that the kids are out of school: a weeklong seminar about our nation's founding principles, courtesy of the Tampa 912 Project.

The organization, which falls under the tea party umbrella, hopes to introduce kids ages 8 to 12 to principles that include "America is good," "I believe in God," and "I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable." 

And no, they're not kidding.  This is not a story from The Onion.

One example at Liberty: Children will win hard, wrapped candies to use as currency for a store, symbolizing the gold standard. On the second day, the "banker" will issue paper money instead. Over time, students will realize their paper money buys less and less, while the candies retain their value.

"Some of the kids will fall for it," Lukens said. "Others kids will wise up."

Another example: Starting in an austere room where they are made to sit quietly, symbolizing Europe, the children will pass through an obstacle course to arrive at a brightly decorated party room (the New World).

Red-white-and-blue confetti will be thrown. But afterward the kids will have to clean up the confetti, learning that with freedom comes responsibility.

Still another example: Children will blow bubbles from a single container of soapy solution, and then pop each other's bubbles with squirt guns in an arrangement that mimics socialism. They are to count how many bubbles they pop. Then they will work with individual bottles of solution and pop their own bubbles.

"What they will find out is that you can do a lot more with individual freedom," Lukens said. 

It's vacation Bible school, only the Good Book in question is Atlas Shrugged.   The irony of indoctrination of children into a social theory of "individual freedom" is also awesome enough to power dying stars.

But this is 2011, where you can send your kids to Tea Party Galt camp so they learn not to be socialists, parasites, moochers or looters.  (What?  No Ron Paul doll-making?)

Greek Fire, Part 31

The legendary, unquenchable Greek Fire continues to burn in Athens as tens of thousands of protesters surrounded the parliament building there in opposition to the latest round of austerity cuts.

Riot police and barricades blocked approaches to parliament as 20,000 people gathered in the capital, summoned by a popular protest group that has occupied central Syntagma Square for weeks after a similar mobilisation in Spain.

Lawmakers inside the building are debating a new austerity package worth over 28 billion euros ($40 billion), a condition demanded by Greece's creditors in return for a badly-needed new aid bailout.

Prime Minister George Papandreou began an emergency meeting with the Greek head of state, President Carolos Papoulias, after a government deputy defected on Tuesday, reducing the government's majority to five seats.

Another party member also recently indicated that he would vote against the government's plan, raising the likelihood the reforms may be rejected.

Greek citizens know they are the ones who are going to be paying and paying and paying for the bailout of the government, and they aren't happy one bit.  This is the third general strike this year for Greece and once again it has paralyzed the country.

A Greek default and collapse of the euro is no longer unthinkable.  As a result, the Greek government has all but collapsed:

After violent protests against austerity measures Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a government reshuffle in a bid to solve his nation's debt woes.

Papandreou said in a brief televised statement that he will seek a vote of confidence in the new government Thursday. He did not offer any details of the extent of the government reorganization.

The Greek parliament has opened debate on the austerity measures, seen as essential to Greece's meeting the terms of its international creditors.

Papandreou said the formation of a unity government requires agreement from all opposition parties on the cuts and privatizations agreed to in an international bailout Greece undertook just over a year ago.

This will solve precisely nothing.  If the Greek government falls, no, when the Greek government falls, the euro and eurozone are next.  A number of truly awful financial scenarios branch out from a Greek collapse and default, and all of them end up causing severe damage to the already weakened US economy.

Our inability to deal with the Too Big To Fail regime has now come full circle.  It's no longer banks that are insolvent, but entire countries like Greece.  And should the Greek Fire spread like I think it will, the second half of 2011 is going to make 2008 look like a picnic.

Batten down the hatches, folks.  It just got real.

Mitt Romney Has A Message For Tornado Alley

"Moderate" Republican Mitt Romney would like Republicans in red state Tornado Alley places like Oklahoma and Alabama and flood-prone areas like Mississippi to know that if a natural disaster flattens your community, you're on your own.

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

To recap there, Mittens thinks passing debt to America's kids is a far worse than trying to save them after a natural disaster. If they really need help, the private sector will come through, right? It "makes no sense at all" for the federal government to be in the disaster relief business...but it didn't stop Mitt from taking millions in federal cash when winter storms and flooding hit Massachusetts while he was governor. He took nearly $100 million in FEMA aid during his term and took that aid multiple times, including $70 million plus in 2006. It wasn't immoral then. It made sense then. We had deficits then. But of course we had a Republican president then, too. IOKIYAR.

Now? Sworn to protect and defend the Constitution, including the general welfare and defense of the country? Never heard of it, Mitt says.  Now he's pandering to Republicans who don't live near disaster-prone areas.  Of course, given all the floods, tornadoes, and wildfires in just the first half of 2011, there aren't a whole lot of areas that aren't prone to disasters.

Sure hope you have disaster insurance, America.  President Romney sure doesn't give a damn.

Now That's Starbucks Justice, Folks

(CNN) -- A man accused of placing a hidden camera in the unisex bathroom of a Starbucks was found dead in a hotel room in Punta Gorda, Florida, on Sunday, police said.
According to preliminary investigations, foul play is not suspected.
Mmmkay.  I'm just saying they may not want to eliminate the possibility.

RIP Privacy, You Will Surely Be Missed

Internet users' records could be accessed without court order, if the FBI is granted the expanded powers that it seeks. Civil rights advocates have denounced the effort, asserting that even the status quo violates Constitutional rights.
"The idea that the FBI would be given more powers when it's already been abusing lesser powers is, to put it mildly, appalling," said Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
Yeah, something like that.

Let's jump just a little further back in time, when the FBI decided to just look into "people of interest" and use that as means to dig until they found something to use.  Without judicial oversight, this cannot possibly be a good thing.  We learned about checks and balances in second grade.  I expect this to fail, but I remain cautious just in case.

They Want To Be A Part Of It, New York, New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is following through on his January promise to pass and sign into law a same-sex marriage bill in the Empire State.

The Marriage Equality Act would grant same-sex couples equal rights to marry "as well as hundreds of rights, benefits and protections that are currently limited to married couples of the opposite sex," according to a news release from Cuomo's office.

In a statement accompanying the release, Cuomo said the state has "been on the right side of history," citing such civil rights battles as women's suffrage.

"But on the issue of marriage equality, our state has fallen behind," he said.

Cuomo has been a vocal proponent of allowing same-sex couples in New York to marry. In March, he released a statement saying that he was in the midst of a series of meetings to discuss such a marriage equality bill.

"Marriage equality is a matter of fairness and legal security for thousands of families in this state -- not of religion or culture," Cuomo said Tuesday in announcing the proposed bill.

Cuomo's a smart cat.  He knows that the same measure was defeated two years ago when a deal in the State Senate went up in flames and Gov. Paterson got burned.  This time around Cuomo made the deals in advance, and he's got the support lined up before announcing the bill proposal.  We'll see how far and how fast this bill goes, but the prospects are good this time around.

The Whole Deck Of Race Cards

Steve M. catches this tremendously offensive, racist, lie-filled "advocacy" ad for the CA-36 special election where Democrat Janice Hahn is basically called a criminal who hangs out with other criminals, commonly known as "black people".

Now, what do you think would happen if the races and parties were reversed? If this ad were made on behalf of a black Democrat in a local election, condemnations would be demanded not just of the people involved, but of all black politicians -- oh, not Herman Cain or Allen West, but all black Democrats, and Democrats in general.

So I want every Republican to have to answer for this ad. I want the press to ask John Boehner and Paul Ryan to condemn it. I want them to ask Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann and that guy who just entered the race -- what's his name? Huntsman? -- to denounce it. If Republicans won't pledge never to hire Ladd Ehlinger, the maker of the ad, I think we deserve to know why. I want there to be demands that every Republican politician condemn Turn Right USA and denounce any ads made on their behalf by the PAC. I want this to be as all-consuming a story as the Anthony Weiner story, until everyone involved in making and disseminating the ad is a pariah. And if the press won't put every Republican in America on the spot, I want the Democratic Party to do so.

I know nothing remotely like this is going to happen. But it's the only appropriate response. 

And the best part is this tremendously awful ad has already achieved its purpose:  putting CA-36 on the map for national Republicans to take out Janice Hahn because "the damn liberals think we're racists" and of course the only racists are people who think there's anything offensive about this ad.

So now putting Hahn's opponent, Tea Party Republican Craig Huey, into office by whatever means necessary is now the other thing that will matter.  Case in point, Robert Stacy McCain's defense of the ad, saying:

If a candidate for Congress was, indeed, demonstrably “friendly to gang members,” I think that’s what they used to call “news.” Just sayin’ . . .

Right.   TPM's got that covered since Bob there is too lazy to bother.

...a review of the Fox 11 News story found major flaws that undermine its central allegations. Most notably, records and interviews show that the gang intervention workers identified in the report have not received city funding. Additionally, a convicted rapist was wrongly identified as a gang intervention worker, and Hahn was mistakenly accused of providing funds directly to gang workers.

So no, the ad's premise that Hahn was on the take from gang members is in fact demonstrably false.  The ad is full of complete crap on top of being arguably the most spectacularly offensive political ad I've seen in recent years.  In short, it's exactly what these guys wanted to do, to shock the right into not letting another special election go by with another ho-hum loss.

It also shows you some 17 months before the 2012 elections just where the right is going on political attack ads.  You will see more of this.  And it will be much, much worse.

More Prop 8 Debate

A federal judge has upheld Judge Vaughan Walker's ruling striking down Prop 8, declaring that the fact that Walker is gay had no bearing on the legal decision to nullify California voters' proposition to overturn gay marriage.

The decision by Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco left the ruling by retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker in place. Walker’s decision remains on hold pending a separate appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Proponents of Proposition 8 argued that Walker's conflict was not his sexual orientation, but the fact that he was in a serious same-sex relationship that could conceivably lead to marriage.

Walker, a Republican appointee, has never said publicly whether he wished to marry his partner. But he told reporters that he never considered his sexual orientation grounds for declining to preside over the Proposition 8 challenge.

"It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings," Ware wrote in his ruling.

The Prop 8 supporters made the legal argument that because Judge Walker was gay, he had a conflict of interest and that he was incapable of ruling on the merits of the law.  Judge Ware basically laughed that argument out of court and deservedly so.

So the ruling will still go to California's Supreme Court, and then ultimately the US Supreme Court, which is where I've said all along that this will end up, and probably just in time for the 2012 Presidential contest.


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